Sex Stories

05.29.13

10 Fascinating Porn Star Memoirs: Aurora Snow on Porn Tell-Alls

Why do porn stars go into this business? What do their personal stories reveal? Aurora Snow examines 10 porn star memoirs, including those by Christy Canyon and Linda Lovelace.

When parents send their children out into the world with hopes and dreams, about the last thing they want for them is the life of a professional fornicator. Yet sometimes, that’s exactly what happens. And then the question arises: “What went wrong?”

Few adult actors had the dream of performing in porn early on, so how did they get there? That question, along with the always popular “what’s it like?” and countless others are answered to some degree in the autobiographies of your favorite porn stars. Below is a look at 10 notable and fascinating porn star memoirs.

1. Lights, Camera, Sex! by Christy Canyon. Published: 2003. Pages: 314

Working in the golden era of porn, Christy Canyon was a legend of the ‘80s and ‘90s. After penning her own memoir, Canyon decided to own it, “so I self published,” she said. “I had such a huge fanbase, I knew I could make what the agents were offering me from my fan club alone. I had a snail mail fan club which was the in thing in the ‘90s.” In her book, she focuses on her childhood, coming from a decent family, and her experiences. “[The adult industry] was almost like an extended family because I wasn’t really talking to mine at the time,” said Canyon. “I was only 18 when I got into the business and really innocent. I really learned a lot from it and in some weird f**ked up way it really empowered me. For me it made me feel good, made me independent, made me stronger. I hope that people see that there are two sides to me and most porn stars. You can’t always be the porn person, you’d go crazy! Certain girls become their character and it’s not always a good thing.” Canyon’s character and personality are clearly depicted in her memoir. Today, Canyon co-hosts a show on Playboy radio.

Amazon rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir, “sincere” and “a lively narrative,” though they warn that “the end is confusing, it ends abruptly, almost in mid conversation.” (The rumor is this was purposefully done to lead up to a second book.)

2. Traci Lords: Underneath It All by Traci Lords. Published: 2003. Pages: 304

Traci Lords is perhaps the most controversial adult actress of all time, infamous for being the first underage porn star. It’s a sad tale of what a very young and disadvantaged girl does for money, the choices she makes and the family dysfunction that encourages it. Lords writes about doing drugs and posing for Penthouse at the tender age of 15. Most of her XXX career’s work, the underage material, was yanked from shelves, leaving only a single movie available to her fans, made just after she turned 18. Traci Lords left porn and pursued a mainstream career, and her fans now watch her in B-movies.  What Traci Lords got away with in the 80s would be nearly impossible now. She helped create a more cautious industry that works to weed out any underage performers.

Amazon rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir, “simply written,” an open and honest look at her life,” but warn “those looking for an erotic read will be disappointed.”

3. How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson and bestselling author Neil Strauss. Published: 2004. Pages: 592

Jenna Jameson is the world’s most recognized porn star. My personal experience with Jenna was with a strong woman in control of herself and her surroundings. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to be the boss. As a porn newbie, I looked up to her. Yet her story of drug abuse, loneliness and controlling men proves she wasn’t the role model I perceived her to be. She offers advice to would-be porn stars and glorifies her decisions, including some of the poorer ones. Her lifestyle is glamorized to a degree, which I understand having lived through it myself; there are aspects of glamour. After reading this, I realize now just how fragile that strong woman was. All she wanted in the beginning was to be a Vegas showgirl, just like the mom she never knew. What she got was a painful journey to adult superstardom. (Jenna could not be reached for comment.)

Amazon rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir “articulate, candid, and hard to put down,” “set at a whirlwind pace,” though they warn that some of the stories “ seem embellished or fabricated.”

4. Ordeal by Linda Lovelace and Mike McGrady. Published: 2006. Pages: 288

Famous for her role in Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace airs her dark secrets and life of tragedy. Her memoir is a tale of despair, and some even consider it an anti-porn piece. Lovelace writes of how she was forced into doing porn and prostitution by her insanely abusive husband. It strips away the glamour of the ’70s porn era and reveals the exploitations of a woman beaten. This is one of the darker adult memoirs.

Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir, “a great book about Lovelace’s unfortunate life,” “shows a dark side of pornography,” and warn about its “graphic nature, a horror tale of abuse.”

5. The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz by Ron Jeremy. Published: 2009. Pages: 384

Ron Jeremy might just be the most famous man in porn. Never one to turn down work of any kind and always happy to be in the spotlight, Jeremy was motivated to write a book when the right publisher approached him. “I’d spoken with some minor companies, but when Harper Collins asked and said they’d hire a ghost writer and everything, they had the same team that did Jenna Jameson, Traci Lords, and Motley Crue… I saw the mistakes my friend Heidi Fleiss made, the people who self publish, even Christy Canyon, they make more money per book but they don’t sell many books,” Jeremy said. “I’d rather work with a major company that will put me on the NY Times bestseller list, and they did.” His memoir is not the typical tell-all with tales of woe and abuse. “I want people to see there are two sides to the adult industry,” he said. “Most people said that after reading my book, as compared to Traci Lords or Jenna Jameson, they felt good about watching a porn film. I want people to have a nice healthy recreational attitude about porn and I think my book does that.”  He’s an all-around likeable character, college educated with—surprisingly—no history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Amazon rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon readers called this memoir “a good, easy, fun read,” “full of anecdotes that make you smile or blush,” but warn that Ron Jeremy “doesn’t reveal as much about himself as hoped.”

6. Absolute Mayhem by Monica Mayhem and Gerrie Lim. Published: 2010. Pages: 256.

Monica Mayhem’s is a tale of sex, drugs and some very candid behind the scenes looks at adult industry life. Mayhem came into porn as most girls do: she was an exotic dancer in London, though before that she was a stockbroker in Sydney, Australia. Mayhem shares her life experiences, and is quite candid, almost catty about some of her industry experiences. She includes her Wiccan religious beliefs and indicates that her religion is what helps center her. This is just one of the many unique circumstances Mayhem opens up about. Since writing her book, Mayhem has been absent from adult world and was last known to be living happily ever after, married to a veterinarian in Sydney, Australia.

Amazon rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Amazon readers called this memoir “nothing new, but told well,” “a simple and brave statement of facts,” and warn that it “has interesting tidbits, but no real spark.”

7. Sinner Takes All by Tera Patrick and Carrie Borzillo. Published: 2011. Pages: 336.

From her first sexual encounter—as a young teenager taken advantage of by a much older man—to her controlling (now ex-) husband, Patrick’s autobiography reads like one expects it to. Tera was a rising star, and with Digital Playground, launched to the top in almost record time. Once she realized her strengths, Tera took control of her own image and parted ways with Digital Playground to create her own company, TeraVision.  On sharing her story with the world, Patrick said, “I guess there’s never a right time to pen your life story, between the constant traveling and turmoil. Writing Sinner Takes All turned out to be cathartic for me. It was my hope that readers would appreciate my honesty and find inspiration. I, like everyone, go through the many ups and downs of life’s journey. I wanted my fans to have a little insight into who I am and debunk the myths about me.” Patrick spreads the truth about who she is and where she comes from in this memoir.

Amazon rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir “a down to earth look at her journey,” “at times funny, but often quite sad,” and warn, “half of the book focuses on her relationship with her ex-husband.” (He also writes some of it.)

8.  Girlvert By Oriana Small. Published: 2011. Pages: 312

Oriana Small (Ashley Blue), who has appeared in over 300 adult films, wrote her memoir without the assistance of a ghost writer. When asked if writing her memoir was difficult, Blue responded, “I have no problem laying my guts out on the street and running them over a couple times—I like that.” Her tale is one of frequent drug abuse and an over-eagerness to please her tawdry boyfriend. “I love it when girls read my book and connect to the love story …  everybody has these young relationships and when someone sees past all the ass-fucking and throat-gagging, there’s a common thread of relationships, boyfriend, and love.” Blue wrote the book in the same manner she speaks, and that voice came through loud and clear. She’s blunt, yet passively naïve. Her memoir wasn’t heavily publicized, which is a shame, because more people should read this brutally honest tale.

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers called this memoir “darkly brutal,” saying that “it goes over the edge,” and warn that her story was “at times, almost too much to handle.”

9. I Am Jennie by Jennie Ketcham. Published:2012. Pages: 352

Jennie Ketcham (known as Penny Flame) starred in over 100 movies, but may be best known for her stints on reality TV shows Celebrity Rehab and Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. It was those shows that ultimately led her to pen a memoir. “I knew that if I didn’t put it all out there (my humanity, i.e., not being horny all the time and having real person feelings, my ‘being done with the biz,’ the drug, sex and alcohol issues), I would be tempted to go back for just one more scene. Everyone has skeletons, mine are Google-able.” Throughout her book, Ketcham writes about working hard to recover from the consequences of her bad decisions instead of running from them, something she still believes in now: “Every action has implications and consequences. There is always a way out, or, a way back. You don’t have to be the person you were yesterday, today.” Her story is full of mistakes made and lessons learned the hard way.

Amazon rating:  4.5 stars out of 5.

Amazon readers called this memoir “a compelling tale of sex addiction,” and warn not to read if “you are offended by bad words and dirty language.”

10. Porn Star—Everything You Want To Know And Are Embarrassed To Ask by Steven St.Croix. Published: 2013 Pages: 160

Steven St. Croix is one of the newest additions to the porn-star-memoir category with his self-written book, which is less about his life and more about answers to fans’ inquisitive questions. “Having never written a book, I thought I could tackle something smaller that could still convey some of the answers to questions that people have regarding the industry,” he said. “I wanted to tell [about] the industry from a male perspective… My memoir is not illicit events in chronological order, it’s a key to helping people understand why people make this choice. Why they are okay using their sexuality as a currency; in this industry everyone has access to it.” Within the porn industry, St. Croix is one of the rock star veterans, having put 20 years of his life into performing. He’s not as well known outside of porn as, say, James Deen, but has long tried to make his mark on mainstream media. Perhaps this book is his chance.

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Amazon readers said of this memoir, “it’s like he’s talking with you, face to face,” describing it as “an interesting informative view of those in the adult industry,”  and warning that some of it “seems generic, and not as juicy as expected.”